Alex Rodriguez is starting the next phase of his professional baseball career.
On Tuesday afternoon, he went back to where it all started.
Rodriguez was back at Westminster Christian, his high school alma mater, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Warriors’ home game against rival Palmer Trinity.
Rodriguez’s return to the place where he’d begin a path to stardom in Major League Baseball was part of Westminster Christian’s commemoration of its 1992 baseball team, which won the first of the school’s two national championships. The Warriors have won 11 state titles, which is tied with Key West for the most of any team in Florida.
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“It’s been great to come back and see a lot of the guys from the [1992 national] championship team,” Rodriguez said. “It’s all come full circle for me.”
In addition to Rodriguez, other famous Westminster alums such as Mickey Lopez, Doug Mientkiewicz (now manager of the Twins minor-league affiliate in Fort Myers) and Dan Perkins will be among the players from the 1992 team that will throw a first pitch before home games this season. Westminster’s coach that season, Rich Hofman, threw the first pitch at the first home game recently.
“Once you’re a Warrior you are always a warrior,” Rodriguez said. “It’s great to see the new talent here, but most importantly, Emil [Castellanos] is doing a great job with shaping the character of our young kids.”
Rodriguez, 41, is working with the Yankees this spring as a special instructor/advisor during Spring Training.
“It’s going good,” Rodriguez said. “We’re very excited about the prospects we have and this is a big transition year for the Yankees. I really think we have an opportunity to do really well. I’m super excited about having the opportunity to work with our young players and to stay involved with the Yankees is good.”
Prior to walking out on the field, Rodriguez spoke to Westminster’s players in the team dugout and chatted with them about school and baseball. Some of the younger students at the school called out to him, yelling, “A-Rod.” Rodriguez gave a few of them some high-fives on the way to the field.
“For us it’s a tremendous honor to acknowledge those guys on the field,” Westminster Christian baseball coach Emil Castellanos said. “They started something unbelievable. Any time you can have someone like Alex Rodriguez throwing the first pitch at a high school baseball game, it’s exciting.”